Denmark began construction on an almost 70-kilometre fence this week to stave off sick boars wandering over its border from Germany.
\Work will begin in Padborg and is expected to last until the autumn of 2019.
During the first two months, six stretches of the fence, each measuring one kilometer in length, will be erected in Aabenraa and Tønder Municipalities. This will make it possible to fine-tune the construction technique ahead of full-scale construction of the fence.
“We have 11 billion god reasons to do everything we can to prevent African swine fever reaching Denmark. And now we can finally get started on erecting our wild boar fence. The fence and our increased efforts to hunt wild boar will break the chain of infection so there is less risk of African swine fever spreading to Denmark,” said Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, Minister for Environment and Food.
In March 2018, the Government and the Danish People’s Party agreed on a number of initiatives aimed at preventing the spread of African swine fever.
The government and the Danish People’s Party have agreed to spend DKK $123.9 million (USD $20 million) on increased efforts to combat African swine fever, of which DKK $30 million (USD $4.59 million) will be provided by industry as co-financing.
In addition to the fence, new hunting times have been introduced, allowing wild boar hunts around the clock, as well as intensified efforts to hunt wild boar on state-owned and private land. Furthermore, fines for transgressions have been raised, for example if an animal transport has not been properly cleaned or disinfected. Signs have also been erected at rest stops along Danish highways informing people of the risk of spreading African swine fever through food waste in nature.
Infected wild boars have already been found in Belgium.
Environmental groups worried that the fence may keep other animals from crossing the border.
“We recognise the potential danger of African swine fever to Danish pork meat production, however, we have seen no documentation yet of the effectiveness of the planned Danish border fence,” the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) in Denmark and Germany wrote in an open letter last year.
“With a fence planned to be 150 cm above ground and 50 cm below, the design and construction will be a physical coast-to-coast barrier to wildlife between our countries.”
“We are therefore greatly concerned about the impact of this fence and how it will affect the natural cross-border migration of shared populations of mammal species like European otter, the gray wolf, the golden jackal, the red fox, the Eurasian badger, the roe deer and the red deer.”
Denmark’s government maintained that other species would still be able to cross.
“There will be a 20×20 cm opening every 100 metres to allow smaller animals to pass through the fence,” the Danish government said in a statement on Monday.
Spokespersons behind the initiatives are pleased that construction has begun on the fence.
“The wild boar fence is a cornerstone in preventing African swine fever from spreading to Denmark. The fence will make it easier for hunters to eradicate wild boars from Denmark, and it will keep potentially infected wild boars from crossing the boarder,” said Lise Bech, agriculture and food spokesperson for the Danish People’s Party (DF).
The protection of the country’s pork industry was vital and behind the decision to build the fence, said the Conservative People’s Party of Denmark.
“It’s great that the wild boar fence is going up. We can see African swine fever moving closer and closer to Denmark, making the threat very real. Even though African swine fever is harmless to people, we have to protect our pork exports,” said Orla Østerby, agriculture spokesperson for the Conservative People’s Party of Denmark (K).
Denmark’s pork industry is one of the world’s biggest.
In 2016, Danish pork-industry exports amounted to about DKK 30 billion: DKK 19 billion to other EU countries and DKK 11 billion to countries outside the EU. If an outbreak of African swine fever were to occur, exports to non-EU countries would have to shut down.
However, the value of this trade fell by 3% to DKK5.6 billion (€747 million). The increase in volume terms reflects the 6% growth in Danish pork production (+28,000 tonnes) during the same period.
Trade with other EU countries increased in importance, accounting for 73% of Danish export volumes. Within this, Germany remained the largest single market for Danish pork, with its share increasing to 32% as volumes to other countries fell back.
Shipments to Poland increased 23% year-on-year (+8,600 tonnes) meaning it overtook the UK as the second largest market, as UK shipments declined 13% (-5,700 tonnes). Reflecting a higher import demand, exports to Italy also received a boost (+8,600 tonnes), and there was noticeable growth to a number of smaller EU countries, particularly Romania and Greece.
Exports to non-EU markets increased by 2%, despite a sharp decline in shipments to China, which were 22% lower (-6,300 tonnes) compared to 2017. Increased purchases mainly came from the US and South Korea, with shipments up by 3,000 tonnes each. Deliveries to Japan, Denmark’s largest non-EU export destination for pork, also increased 4% (+1,400 tonnes).
African swine fever is harmless to humans and all animals other than wild boars and domestic pigs.
The wild boar fence will be a strong steel-mat fence, 1.5 metres high and extending 50 cm underground. On stretches along border waterways and trenches, the height of the fence can be reduced to achieve a moat-like effect in front of the fence.
There will be permanent openings in the fence at Schengen border crossing points and areas where waterways intersect. In total, there will be 20 permanent openings for waterways and Schengen border crossing points along the 70-kilometre fence.
The fence will include gates and cattle grids at other crossing points along the border. There will be at least 1 gate per kilometre. Steps will be placed between the gates, so it will be possible to climb over the fence.
There will be a 20×20 cm opening every 100 metres to allow smaller animals to pass through the fence.
Facts: Initiatives to combat African swine fever
The Government and the Danish People’s Party have agreed to spend DKK 123.9 million on increased efforts to combat African swine fever, of which DKK 30 million will be provided by industry as co-financing.